Melbourne Cricket Ground - Collingwood Football Club
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Collingwood Football Club

Alan DidakCollingwood has always been renowned for its love-hate relationship with the Australian football public, and it's a similar case for the Magpies and the MCG.

Although Magpie fans have had much to rejoice about at the home of football, they have also shed many a tear at a ground that appeared to hold a jinx for their team over many years.

Although not officially the Pies' home ground until 1999, the 'G has been Collingwood's second home for many years.

Since 1994, Collingwood has played all but a handful of home games on the MCG as it moved away from its traditional home, Victoria Park.

To the start of season 2012, Collingwood has played 517 VFL/AFL games at the MCG and has won 270, lost 240 and played seven draws, including the 1977 and 2010 grand finals.

Collingwood's rich history at the MCG extends back to the first-ever grand final at the ground in 1902, which was won by the Pies.

Taking on one of its many bitter rivals in Essendon, the Pies ran away with the game after half-time thanks largely to the efforts of Charlie Pannam, who also helped them to another Premiership a year later against hot favourites Fitzroy.

Despite sporadic success - including three Premierships - over the next 25 years, it was not until the late 1920s that the Pies were ready to become part of MCG folklore.

In a period of dominance never seen before or since, Collingwood won four Premierships in succession from 1927-1930. The Collingwood team of this era boasted some of the all-time greats of the game and was coached by the legendary Jock McHale.

While some of the nation's greatest sporting heroes such as Don Bradman and Phar Lap were just commencing their periods of dominance, the Pies had already entered the hearts and minds of Australians as the Kings of the 'G.

Collingwood was to further that reputation with four more flags in the years between 1935 and 1958. While Pie fans may have thought their team almost invincible, fate was to deal them a difficult hand in ensuing years.

Between 1960 and 1981, the Pies faltered eight times on Grand Final day at the MCG.

Not including the draw against North Melbourne in 1977, Collingwood was beaten by four points by Melbourne in 1964, one point by the Saints in 1966 and ten points by Carlton in 1970 after leading by 44 points at half time.

After the eventual loss in 1977 and defeats again in 1980 and 1981, the Collingwood faithful could be forgiven for thinking the MCG was the Magpies' hoodoo ground - at least in September.

All that was forgotten, however, in the drought-breaking Premiership of 1990. Led by captain Tony Shaw, an inspired Collingwood drew on the memories of the late 1920s to outmuscle Essendon in a dour grand final and take their first premiership in 32 years in front of 98,000 at the 'G.

These two teams form one of the great rivalries in VFL/AFL history, and never was this more evident than in the Anzac Day fixture of 1995. In what is widely regarded as one of the most extraordinary games to be played on the hallowed MCG turf, the two teams played out an epic in front of the second-largest home-and-away crowd in history.

Nine goals from Saverio Rocca helped the Pies to a 22-point lead in the final quarter, but the Bombers fought back to hit the front with only a few minutes to go. As the siren sounded, the scores were level.

It was a truly extraordinary result achieved by two extraordinary teams, and the MCG was a fitting venue for such an encounter.

Two decades would pass before Collingwood was to taste premiership gloary again, this time after a thrilling drawn grand final against St Kilda in 2010.  The Pies were dominant in the replay, winning by 56 points and notching up its 15th VFL/AFL premiership.

Collingwood continues its association with the home of football in 2012, playing 14 matches at the MCG (nine home games and five away).

No matter how the team goes, the Magpies' legion of supporters will pack the stands again this year and help create the kind of atmosphere unique to Collingwood and the MCG.

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